An Evaluation of Poetry Train, 2011-12

Marian Sainsbury, Louise Cooper, Eleanor Stevens

01 June 2013

Executive summary

Primary school pupils can have a very variable experience of poetry. This is partly attributable to a lack of confidence and knowledge among some teachers (e.g. Ofsted 2007). Poetry Train was a training programme designed by the Poetry Society to support student teachers who were going to teach in primary schools. It aimed to improve student teachers’ ability and confidence in teaching poetry in order to engage pupils. Poet educators (professional poets with experience working in education settings) and lecturers worked with student teachers at two initial teacher training institutions, providing additional support, ideas and resources in a small number of teaching workshops over the course of an academic year (2011-2012). The evaluation comprised pre- and post-intervention student teacher questionnaires (54 intervention and 38 comparison students), pre- and post-intervention pupil questionnaires (312 pupils of student teachers in the intervention group), group interviews with student teachers and interviews with their lecturers and poet educators.

Key Findings

  • Student teachers who participated in Poetry Train demonstrated significantly greater improvement in knowledge of and enthusiasm for poetry, confidence in teaching poetry, and acquisition of teaching skills than a comparison group.
  • Key factors in the effectiveness of the programme were: the poet educators, who motivated and inspired the student teachers with creative ways to teach poetry; and the timetabled opportunities for students to share ideas and experiences.
  • The findings from the pupil survey (Poetry Train students’ pupils) suggested they had benefited from and enjoyed learning about poetry.
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